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Plot to oust PM: MPs support Brown

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 06 January 2010

Near the end of a day when a snowbound Westminster was gripped by a challenge to Gordon Brown's Labour leadership, a growing number of MPs were lining up behind the prime minister. Contacted by Channel 4 News, 48 expressed support for Gordon Brown, while 10 said they favoured the challenge by Patricia Hewitt and Geoff Hoon.

Gordon Brown

The majority of the dozens of MPs we contacted say they are opposed to the calls for a secret leadership vote.

One said: "I think it’s unnecessary and divisive", and described those behind the calls as "an irritating scab". "If there were to be a vote I think there would be resounding confidence in Gordon Brown."

Another told Channel 4 News the demand was "rubbish", and questioned the motives of Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt. "They're both standing down, and it seems they want to launch a vindictive action against Gordon.

“They helped Labour get elected and now they want to bring it down".

A third said: "Hoon/Hewitt say there are deep divisions. There may be, but there are a few MPs on one side of that divide and the vast majority on the other."

One MP said "Hewitt and Hoon are worried about fading into oblivion.

"The party are very angry about it and it’s not going down well."

The reactions of other Labour MPs were even blunter. "sheer lunacy", "it’s a crazy idea", "ridiculous and stupid", a "huge distraction" and "bonkers". Another said the ballot demand was a "kick in the teeth for the party".

In Favour
A minority of the Labour MPs we spoke to were in favour of a leadership vote.

One said it was "needed to clear the air", arguing it was "too late to stop it because it’s been raised in such a high profile way". They believed there was a "lot of support for it in the PLP (Parliamentary Labour Party)".

Backing the calls, another MP simply said “Brown is an abomination”

Waiting for developments
However a small group of MPs contacted by Channel 4 News are waiting to see what happens next.

"Unless David or Alan come forward in the next hour or so, it won't come to anything," said one. "They need a candidate before you can get a process going."

Another told us: "The worst outcome would be feeble, half-hearted ballot that doesn't get anywhere. Either want to see it happen properly or it be snuffed out quickly." 

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